Objectives: We evaluated the indications and disadvantages of percutaneous technique for proximal humerus fractures in relation to complications encountered in osteoporotic elderly patients and the importance of patient selection.
Methods: The study included 18 patients (10 men, 8 women; mean age 48 years; range 14 to 89 years) who underwent percutaneous fixation (closed reduction and pin fixation with K-wires or Schanz screws) for proximal humerus fractures. Eight patients were beyond 60 years of age. According to the Neer classification, five patients had two-part, 13 patients had three-part neck fractures. The patients were evaluated with range of motion of the shoulder, radiographs, and the Disability of Arm Shoulder and Hand questionnaire (DASH). The mean follow-up was 23 months (range 8 to 60 months).
Results: The mean shoulder abduction was 134 degrees (range 30 degrees to 160 degrees) and the mean elevation was 118 degrees (range 30 degrees to 140 degrees). Full range of motion of the shoulder was achieved in 11 patients (61.1%), including all with two-part fractures. Abduction losses of 60 degrees to 130 degrees and less than 30 degrees were seen in four patients and three patients, respectively, all of whom were older than 60 years. The mean DASH score was 18 (range 0 to 77). Fourteen patients having a score of less than 10 had no pain or functional complaints. Four patients with a score of more than 10 were older than 70 years. Pin migration was observed in seven patients (38.9%), all of whom were over 60 years of age. One patient required revision with partial prosthesis. Nonunion was seen in one patient (5.6%) and malunion with a varus/valgus deformity occurred in four patients (22.2%). None of the patients developed avascular necrosis.
Conclusion: Percutaneous fixation may be preferred in the treatment of two-part and carefully-selected three-part proximal humerus fractures. Due to high complication rate, patient selection is of primary importance among elderly patients.